I hate to claim the title of head lice treatment queen, but after four bouts of head lice in the space of 12 months, I have learned a thing or two about how to deal with head lice. I would love to share this knowledge to ease the burden when you spot the dreaded itch.
First symptoms of head lice
I am like a hawk when it comes to head lice. The minute I spot one of my girls scratching their heads, I say “are you itchy?” and start parting the hair where the fingers were just scratching. The key with head lice is to catch them sooner rather than later.
If you miss those early signs of head lice, the infestation can become quite horrific. I actually learned on one of our misadventures that there are ‘stages’ of infestation. I’ve always caught my kids at stage 1 which is the easiest to treat but if it’s progressed beyond that, don’t despair.
The head lice cycle
Half the battle is understanding how these little hair devils work their evil powers. When the louse matures, it can fly. The kids might put their head close to a friend who has them or share a hat, either way, when they mature lice can fly and will go from one head to another.
They look for loose strands of hair – once they get into the hair they treat it like their own private nest (gross I know!) and lay eggs at the hair root. The eggs are brown in colour and are glued to the hair like cement.
A female louse can lay up to 120 eggs so if you find one bug, you’re looking for around 100 eggs. Imagine my horror when I pulled 5 bugs out of Miss 3’s hair recently. The eggs hatch between 6-10 days after they have been laid so keep an eye on their hair around a week after the first treatment, if the itching starts again, an egg has hatched and there will certainly be more eggs waiting.
Treating head lice
Treating head lice is such a pain, my neck and shoulders are still hurting from last week’s delousing. I love to keep lice products in the bathroom cabinets ready for the first sign of an infestation to save myself a late night trip to the chemist (which I’ve had to do before!).
Here are some tips for treating lice quickly and efficiently:
- Search hair for live bugs and put them into a white bowl full of water (you can see how many you’ve caught in a white bowl)
- Cover hair in lice killing product and attempt to kill the eggs in the hair
- Smother hair in conditioner – the lice products can cause tangles due to its oily nature, conditioner helps to comb the eggs out and it also loosens them at the hair shaft
- Wash hair products out and search again for any missed eggs. Cover in conditioner to sleep in.
- Change all bed linens, and wash on a hot cycle then put through the dryer. Also wash daycare linens, hats, and anything that comes into contact with your child’s hair.
- Boil the kettle and soak hair brushes, hair elastics, combs and other small objects used for hair styling
- Re-check hair a week later and consider doing the conditioner and comb through one more time
Avoiding head lice
We are in avoidance mode now, as the letter has come home saying there have been multiple cases reported of head lice in our daycare room.
We are trying every trick in the book including not washing hair as frequently, using hair spray on daycare days and tying it up in the tightest styles invented by mankind.
We are also using a deterrent spray which has a eucalyptus smell to it, also others swear by tea tree oil products.
But believe it or not, during our last outbreak, I took my toddler to a professional lice removal hairdresser and was shocked to see the majority of kids there were teenagers. The hairdresser said it’s become more common as kids like to pose together for selfies, and they still cuddle and put their heads together just as much as the little ones do. So it is good to remember, head lice isn’t exclusively a little kid thing.
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